The UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is recommending MabThera (rituximab) for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
Cases of the disease are rising in the UK, and around 5,200 men and 4,700 women are diagnosed with it every year.
Studies have shown that the average disease-free lifespan for patients taking the medication is increased from 14.9 months to more than four years.
Rituximab was launched 10 years ago and is the world’s first synthetic antibody licensed for cancer treatment in the UK.
Dr Premini Mahendri, consultant haematologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, said: “Rituximab is continuing to revolutionise the management of NHL.
“The positive NICE guidance for rituximab in the maintenance setting represents a significant step forward in the management of one of the most common forms of NHL.
“By reducing the risk of death and trebling progression free survival in patients living with this disease, the maintenance approach to treatment is moving this cancer to a chronic disease status.”
Tony Gavin, chief executive of the charity Leukaemia CARE, added: “Leukaemia CARE is very pleased with the announcement made by NICE.
“This will obviously improve both the length and quality of life for patients with lymphoma, something about which we are passionate. The charity always welcomes the availability of new treatments for lymphoma or the allied blood disorders.”
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